Say Thanks Day
Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund held its annual Say Thanks Day event on Saturday, September 24 at the Boy Scout Base Camp at For Snelling. For the first time in the 12 year history of the event, Mother Nature decided to test both participants and organizers.
As final preparation for Say Thanks Day took place on Friday afternoon, the Fort Snelling area experienced its second heavy rainfall in 3 days, dropping over six inches on an already saturated area. This heavy rainfall forced MMAF to cancel the 10K run, due to unsafe trail conditions. Despite the weather, we had a fun morning full of family-friendly activities and were excited to see so many people taking part in the walk and 5K run.
Congratulations to the top 5K competitors in each age category:
17 and Under: Luke Mears and McKenna Nelson
18 – 35: Michael McClernon and Sydney Eckert
36 – 50: Matt McCoy and Summer Woodward
51 – 65: Mark Tonnier and Linda Pagenkopf
66 and Over: Thomas Lovett
We are grateful to those that participated in the Say Thanks Day program, including the University of Minnesota ROTC Drill Team, The Emerson Avenue Band, the Harding High School Jr. ROTC, Maverick from iHeart Media’s K102 Radio, and to the many volunteers who helped make this event possible. And thanks to the Patriot Parachute Team and the Commemorative Air Force for being on stand-by to perform for us. Unfortunately, the low cloud cover caused for cancelation of the parachute jump and the T-6 fly-over in Missing Man formation this year, but they’ll likely be back to perform for us next year.
Generous sponsors made the day possible, including Sit Investments, Federated Insurance, Atomic Data, iHeartMedia, Wealth Enhancement Group, TDS, Frauenshuh Companies, and the Boy Scouts provided event space.
Freedom Run, Minnesota Lake
The 10th annual Freedom Run took place on Saturday, June 18 in Minnesota Lake. Over 260 motorcycles and classic cars participated this year, making it the largest crowd in the event’s history. The morning program consisted of featured speakers including MMAF board member Barry Winslow, along with a very emotional live phone call to a local service member deployed to Kuwait. Event participants then celebrated with music, a hog roast, a bean bag tournament, and a live auction with prizes. The event raised over $25,000, bringing the grand total to nearly $180,000 dollars donated over the past decade.
Minnesota Twins Armed Forces Appreciation Day
As part of Military Appreciation Day on July 3, the Minnesota Twins partnered with MMAF to honor four Minnesota service members at Target Field before versing the Texas Rangers. During the pre-game festivities MMAF Co-Founder, General Dennis Schulstad, awarded MMAF grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 on the field to four individuals who earned Purple Hearts for injuries sustained in combat, the grant recipients included:
- Sergeant Eric Bock – Brainerd
- Specialist Bradley Geyer – Waterville
- Sergeant First Class Benjamin Hoff – Stewartville
- Sergeant First Class Troy Martinek – Arden Hills
The Patriot Ride
The Minnesota Patriot Guard and Dennis Kirk, presented the 11th annual Patriot Ride to raise funds for local military causes. The ride started and ended at Key Air, the north end of the Anoka County Airport. More than 4,200 riders participated in the 50-mile ride to show their support for Minnesota service members and their families. Participants enjoyed live music, food, parachute jumps, the Donnie Smith Bike Show, and special speakers. MMAF Co-Founder Skip Krawczyk addressed the crowd with important messages about MMAF and its impact. The ride raised $30,000 for MMAF, totaling more than $360,000 over the past decade.
Leech Lake Area Ride for Vets
The sixth annual Leech Lake Area Ride for Vets took place on Saturday, August 20 at the Walker Area American Legion Post 134. Kick stands went up at 11 a.m. sharp and participants traveled 100 miles to raise funds and awareness for veterans organizations in Minnesota, including MMAF. MMAF Steering Committee Member, Cheri Ford, awarded grants to two Minnesotans as part of the post-ride program. The Leech Lake Area Ride for Vets has raised nearly $27,000 over the past six years. The grant recipients included:
- SRA Zackery Heinen – Zimmerman
- Joshua Peterson – Walker
Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski Show
The Twin Cities River Rats hosted their eighth annual Military Appreciation show at their Minneapolis home site, just off of West River Road in between Broadway Avenue and Plymouth Avenue. The Rats put on another outstanding performance as they barefoot skied, ski-jumped, and built human pyramids on the Mississippi River. The event raised $1,500 for MMAF this year, with overall fundraising totals reaching nearly $15,000. Proceeds from the event help us say “thanks” to Minnesotans who have served in combat since September 11, 2001.
Minnesota State Fair Military Appreciation Day
The Minnesota State Fair held its annual Military Appreciation Day on Tuesday, August 30 as active military, retired military, veterans and their families received discounted admission into the fairgrounds. MMAF manned a booth, and distributed t-shirts to fairgoers, asking them to take a picture wearing their newly acquired MMAF shirt and tag us on social media while helping us raise awareness for the upcoming Say Thanks Day event.
Minnesota Timberwolves Operation Heroes Month
In conjunction with the Minnesota Timberwolves Operation Minnesota Heroes program, MMAF presented grants to nine military service members during every Timberwolves home game in November. Grant recipients were also presented jerseys at center court and enjoyed the game from Target Center suites generously provided by MMAF Board Members Roger and Nancy McCabe. Special thanks to the McCabe’s for their support and to Timberwolves President Chris Wright and his staff for providing this special opportunity to raise public awareness for MMAF and recognition for some of our Minnesota heroes.